Raising Crickets for Pets or Pet Food

The chirping of a cricket can be very annoying to some. But to some it is music to their ears. That is, to another cricket or something looking for a meal. I personally find the chirping quite relaxing, especially on a warm summer’s night. The chirping makes me feel like everything is right with the world. If you feed crickets to your lizards or tortoises they can get quite expensive. Raising crickets is not hard at all and with a little work on your part they will give you plenty of crickets to feed your other pets.

The most common commercially available feeder cricket is the brown cricket namely the Acheta domestica. You can purchase your starter family from a pet store.The male is the one you will hear singing. He is usually singing to attract the female or to ward off another male. It is usually a good idea to have just three or four males in with your females. The females are the ones that look like they have a stinger. Don’t worry, they will not sting you. This is how they lay their eggs. This spear like appendage is called an ovipositor.

The housing for your crickets needs to be escape proof and well ventilated. You can purchase a ready made cricket house from a pet store or you can make one. It just depends on how much money you want to spend. Aquariums with screen tops can be used. How big an aquarium you use will depend on how many crickets you plan to house. I would go with the ten gallon ones, they are easier to move around and to clean.

Rubbermaid or other plastic storage containers also make good housing. Cut a square out of the lid. Use caution when doing this. I use a box knife to do this. Glue aluminum screen over the hole. I use aquarium sealer for this. If you use the aluminum screen you will be able to set a light over the hole to heat the house. I use patio lights with low watt light bulbs for this. You know, the cheap lights that you clip onto your eaves that you can purchase from a Walmart. Keep the temperature above 75 degrees.

The crickets will need places to climb and to hide. I use shredded newspaper or shredded paper. Old toilet paper or paper towel tubes can be used for hiding. The tubes make it easy to collect the crickets. You can just pick up the tube and shake it into a tall container.

The females will need a place to lay their eggs. I use a shallow container about 2 inches to 2 1/2 inches deep. It needs to stay damp. You can use vermiculite or peat moss. I keep an eye on the females, watching when they lay eggs. They stick their “stinger” or ovipositor into the vermiculite or peat moss. After several days of laying eggs, I take out the container and put it into a house setup just for the babies to hatch. Keep the containers warm and in about 7 to 10 days you should have babies.

You can purchase commercial cricket food from pet stores. You can also feed chicken egg laying mash. Greens such as turnip greens or dandelions are a good source of calcium. I put a potato cut in half to give them a water source. You will need to change the potato frequently so it doesn’t rot. I have also used a dish with cotton balls soaked in water. This method will also need to be changed frequently. If you use this method in the parent cricket house sometimes the females will lay their eggs in it. There is a product that is water crystals that can be used. These can be found in pet stores also.

I have had crickets lay eggs in with my Bearded Dragons and have hatched. I thought it was fun to watch the babies grow up. Crickets have been kept as pets in ancient Japan and China because of their chirping. They were considered good luck. Did you know that you can tell the temperature by how fast a cricket chirps? The faster they chirp the warmer the temperature.